The Chicago Bulls overcame a slow start to keep the game interesting then mauled Dallas in the fourth quarter. The Bulls have now won two straight against Western Conference playoff teams and own an overall record of 32-26, six games over .500. It makes you wonder, what if the Bulls didn't go through that mental hangover after Rose was hurt.
Remember that? That stretch where Chicago couldn't get their crap together and lost to Utah, Milwaukee, New York, Cleveland, and a bunch of crap teams. That stretch where tanking for a top three pick seemed like a realistic option. It seems so long ago, so foreign.
Now? The Bulls are playing some pretty good basketball. They don't look like an elite team. Miami just housed them with LeBron James in street clothes, but they sure look like a team who belongs in the playoffs. Since they started getting their shit together around January 1st, the Bulls are 5-2 against Western Conference playoff teams and 12-5 against all playoff teams they've faced.
Granted most of their wins weren't coming against the best of the best, but the Bulls definitely belong. They may not be a serious title threat, but they're certainly no less serious than the other six teams in the East in the playoff race, and I can't say they're any worse than the bottom three-four playoff teams in the West either.
In the end, the Chicago Bulls, even without Rose, even without Deng, might be a top 10 team in the NBA. Tom Thibodeau is a bad ass.
Interesting that he's denying rumors now...
Tom Thibodeau wasn't really speaking out much about the rumors of him leaving and was always giving answers with wiggle room up until recently. Paxson was recently on the radio noting he feels these rumors were planted by another team.
Notice how both management and the coaching staff seem to have come together a bit more after the team started winning? If you're a conspiracy theorist you might note that the fracture appeared much greater while the team was in the tank.
Well of course management doesn't want to lose Thibodeau now. Now the team is playing well, and he's proven that he hasn't lost them despite the changes to the organization. As for Thibodeau, the same is true for him. His team has responded to him, and he knows help and a better roster is likely to come next season.
In short, I don't know that there was ever a chance Thibs was leaving, but if there was, the quality play eliminated it and made everyone pretend it was never there to begin with.
Jimmer Fredette officially agrees to unofficial contract with Chicago, you know, allegedly
So basically, the word is that Fredette will sign with the Bulls as soon as he clears waivers. The Bulls and Fredette have agreed that he'll come, but it can't be made official yet.
I'm excited to see how he does. The Bulls definitely can use his shooting, and the only question will be who's minutes he takes on the floor. However, for a team frequently lacking depth, scoring, and three point shooting, Fredette looks like he can add all three for the Bulls.
It's a nice signing, and a good show by management that they're willing to take a risk (however small) that they might pay the luxury tax this season, since they're now on the hook if Gibson makes the 1st team defensive squad. That doesn't seem overwhelmingly likely, since you'd have to figure Noah would get in ahead of him on reputation alone, but there is some chance of that.
Kirk Hinrich is fricken ballin out there
I've been on of the strong critics of Kirk Hinrich at times. His shot has frequently been broke, he often misses time with injury, and he doesn't have all that great of vision for a point guard. However, after a slow start, the Bulls turn around in fortunes certainly has quite a bit to do with Kirk Hinrich playing like it was 2006/2007.
His three point shooting has been much better, he's actually getting to the basket a bit, and his defense has been tremendous. He's always left it all on the floor, but now his effort seems to be yielding much better results. The Bulls are so much more dangerous when Kirk is drilling outside shots, and he just looks healthier and more athletic on the court than he has in awhile.
I don't trust Kirk to keep it up, but he's playing really well right now.
Heading to sunny Mexico
I will be heading out to Mexico on vacation for the next week. This likely means limited watching Bulls games for me [though I did set it up to stream them to my laptop] and probably a bit less posting than normal. I'll still probably try to write an article at least once every two days assuming there's something interesting to say.
We'll see how it all goes. If you don't hear from me for a few days, then we'll just hope that I'm sipping margaritas on the beach and not captured by a drug cartel.
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